One of my favorite literary tropes has always been when someone who is considered a sham, a faker or a liar attempts to tell – or is forcibly exposed to – the truth, but nobody believes them. It’s an oldie but a goodie; going back at least to the story of the boy who cried wolf, it calls to me. It entertains me.
I’ve toyed with the idea in some of my projects. Nothing that’s been published (yet), but it creeps around the edges of my idea bin, poking its head in every once in a while, asking “Ready to write me, yet?” I sometimes give an experimental prod, but it hasn’t yet gelled cohesively.
One story I started but didn’t end up finishing was about a gang of YouTube broskis creating a series wherein they’d lock a few millenials in a house and try to scare the crap out of them with all the usual tricks; start with telling them the “history” of the house – heavily modified to increase the scare factor, of course, with murder, rape and abuse rampant amongst the residents – and take a tour where they point out every random stain and crack in the plaster while ascribing maliciousness and depravity to each. Then they spend the night triggering jumpscares, spooky noises, projected “ghosts” and the like.
Problem being? Turns out the house is actually haunted, and the spooks are none to happy about being made fun of. Wackiness ensues, probably resulting in everyone being dead.
I want to write that story. I do. I just have problems approaching it, for fear of screwing it up, being viewed as a bad ripoff, or discovering the idea is not as entertaining when actually penned as it was in my head.
Another – that actually has a few chapters on the page, and that I might actually try to do something with once I’m done with the secret project and figure out what’s going to happen with Little Miss No Name and Ex Inferis – is currently called Believe Me. In it, I have a phone psychic dipwit yuppie who gets tired of living hand to mouth and being made fun of. Being a big fan of shows like. Psychic Detectives and with a boyfriend who works crime scene cleanup, she comes up with a great idea.
Murder someone, use her boyfriend’s position and know-how to get “clues” to “solve” the crime – pinning it on whoever cut her off at Starbucks that week, most likely – then offer “advice” and readings to the cops. Get famous, get prestige, get some bloody respect.
It actually works… For a while. But then the boyfriend gets caught, gets killed, and she goes to jail. Which is when she really starts getting messages from the spirit world… Messages that might prevent worse crimes. But nobody buys in. What to do?
I just have a deep seated affection for characters who can say “No, guys, hey, wait! I really mean it this time!”
What about you out there? What literary trope, common or otherwise, calls your name in the dark of night and begs to be written about? Have you got a favorite crying wolf character? Let us know down below!